Global focus vital for manufacturing

Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, pictured with Business Secretary Vince Cable

Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, pictured with Business Secretary Vince Cable

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Leading industrial guru, Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, has laid out a three point plan to ensure manufacturing regains its place as a pillar of the British economy.

Leading industrial guru, Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, has laid out a three point plan to ensure manufacturing regains its place as a pillar of the British economy.

Speaking in Sheffield, at the 375th Cutlers’ Feast, the Warwick University professor who has advised government on scientific, industrial and technological issues, called for British manufacturing to focus on partnership, research and investment.

The founder and director of the Warwick Manufacturing Group also urged the coalition government to create a sustainable long term focus on manufacturing.

“It is vital that Government supports innovation by backing partnerships, research, and capital investment,” said Lord Bhattacharyya.

“For too long we have been scared of having an industrial policy because of the mistakes of the past, but our problems were the results of a bad industrial policy, one built on arrogance about captive markets and life support for failures.

“We have made a start in changing that. The rhetoric of the Government has been good. There is at least an understanding of the essential role of manufacturing. Now we need a sustainable, long term focus on manufacturing.”

Lord Bhattacharyya called on manufacturers to create global partnerships, warning them: “You can’t become a Google, or a Toyota, or a Samsung without an global market focus.”

The Labour peer urged the Government to make the research environment business friendly and called for the university research funding regime to target commercially focused projects.

He also called for red tape to be removed from investment incentives like tax credits and capital allowances and for banks to be encouraged to lend more to industry.

“Why is this so important? Because good innovation is disruptive.

“It changes markets, destroys business models, transforms entire countries.

“Innovation disrupts. It doesn’t always work the way you planned, but if you don’t do it, the only certainty is it will happen to you,” said Lord Bhattacharyya.

Lord Bhattacharyya poked gentle fun at his hosts, telling them that when the Cutlers’ Company was founded, the only producer of crucible steel in the world was India.

What’s more, when the very first Cutlers Feast was held, Britain’s economy was less than a fiftieth of the world economy, while China and India represented more than a half.

“Perhaps when we consider the future, we should think not about the “rise of the East”, but of a return to the world the first Master Cutlers knew,” said Lord Bhattacharyya.

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